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Saturday, January 22, 2011

Bowie Knife Fight Ends Painfully, But Not Seriously

From the New York Times of January 16, 1878, comes an article titled “A Desperate Fight in Virginia”:
Danville, Va. Jan. 15. - A desperate encounter between Philip Grasty, a tobacconist, and W.P. Robinson, a merchant, occurred in the latter's store this morning. Grasty was formerly Robinson's clerk, but quit a year ago without settling accounts. He called on Robinson for this purpose to-day, but Robinson refused, stating that Grasty had forged his [Robinson's] books, and he did not intend to pay him anything. Grasty thereupon struck Robinson, and when he advanced to retaliate Grasty drew a pistol. At the same time Robinson produced a bowie-knife. Grasty then fired and broke Robinson's left arm, but the latter stabbed him several times in the left shoulder and arm, and nearly cut off his little finger. Grasty kept up a promiscuous fire, and Robinson, at last, dodged behind the counter, being unable to fight any longer. Both parties are well connected and stand high in society. Being separated, physicians were summoned and the wounds dressed. Both men are painfully hurt, but not seriously.
Somehow I suspect that today's New York Times would classify these wounds as "serious"; however, at the time, so soon after the Civil War and in the midst of the Western expansion, they were dismissed as merely "painful."

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